Wednesday, January 26, 2011

leaving college

My son is withdrawing from college today.  We had a good conversation Saturday and made the plan together.  He would see if he could get his act together this week, and if not he would come home.  I was a little worried that he would get his act together and then not be able to keep it up, so I was thinking the best thing was probably for him to come home.  But I am surprised by how much it hurts.

As a senior in high school he had no doubt that he wanted to go to college.  With two parents who are/were professors, part of the problem is that he can't imagine doing anything else.  He went off in fall 2009 to St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, which had been his first choice.  It turned out not to be the supportive place I had imagined because it is so small, and after the first semester they told him he couldn't come back.  I didn't want him to come home and have to deal with his father's illness, so I arranged for him to go to Presbyterian College, which had been his second choice.  Spring semester a year ago he worked with an academic coach and his grades were As and Bs.  Over the summer he took courses at our local community college and completed his language requirement, with an A in Spanish 201.

This past fall went less well.  He was having trouble with at least one course, and then he got sick and missed more than a week of school (he tested positive for both influenza and strep throat).  After than, he had trouble catching up. We arranged for a medical withdrawal from one course and he got through the semester with a B and two C+s in his other courses because I went three days and sat with him in the library all afternoon and made sure he worked.

We hoped this semester would be better, but after the snow days he stopped going to class and to his appointments with his academic coach.  He doesn't report the anxiety of last fall, he says he just doesn't feel like going to class and can't make himself.  So he is coming home, hopefully on a medical withdrawal.  He thinks he wants to take one course at a time at the local community college, and I want him to find some volunteer work.

When we talked Saturday we talked about how maybe he just isn't ready for college yet, needs more time for his brain to develop.  I said if he was home I would expect him to do some work for me, and he said he could understand that.  I will expect him to help with his father and aunt.  While I had been trying to protect him from that, I see his coming home as a different path.  We will see where that leads us.

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